June 19, 2013 Subject:
Amazing find, thanks for posting
I saw parts of this movie at least three times on local Public Access TV over the last three-four months, and couldn't figure out what I was watching. I hoped it was a TV show from the mid-50s, something unique, a one-off, that had been broadcast from Philly or Detroit, although it seemed more and more to me like a Harlem production as I watched it. I never was able to see it right from the beginning, and the local Public Access channel does not broadcast names of shows; it's primitive that way. You just have to guess what you're watching. Anyway, today I started writing down names of acts on the show. When I looked up Amos Milburn, I finally found what I was looking for: footage of his singing "Bad Whiskey" in the Basin Street Revue. And it was then I found it was a movie, not a TV show. I figured it was from around 1956, and it was. The quality was so good, I thought it had to have been filmed on movie stock, and of course it had been. Thanks so much for posting this time capsule of black entertainers doing a great job delivering the goods. Too bad it wasn't an experiment in black TV broadcasting from an earlier time; that was what I hoped---that it was the amazing TV project of some black entrepreneurs. But at least I know what it is, basically why it is, and what it's called. Delicious slice of mid-50s life, black American style. And it may very well have been the amazing project of some black entrepreneurs of the time. I just don't know the whole story yet.
March 24, 2012 Subject:
Black Musical History Lesson
Technical garbage and all that aside, this little musical gem features a handful of very talented Black singers and musicians of the day and sad to say they were not show-cased much outside of this film and a few more like it, and it probably did not play beyond the segregated theatre venues of the day. Enjoy the performances for what they are and for the most part they are just great. Sarah Vaughn is probably the finest pop/r&b singer from that period. She does two throwaway songs. Much,much later Cab Calloway and Nipsy Russell would come back to the fore-front in block-buster films in the late 70's-early 80's and on TV for the stars that they were. Unless you are an R & B Buff, check these performances out for something new to you in something old from the dawn of rock-n-roll. Buffs,like me, will just eat this up. Enjoy.!
February 11, 2012 Subject:
Basin Street Revue
One of three similar variety bills (the other two are also on IA)featuring leading black jazz, r&b and rock 'n' roll performers of the mid-50s. Despite the claim that they were shot at New York's Apollo Theatre, they were almost certainly shot without a live audience in a TV studio. For some reason this is a cut version of a 58 minute feature. Nat "King" Cole is one of several billed acts who don't appear; nor does top of the bill Count Basie! Instead the show closes with Cab Calloway. The complete version is in the British National Film Archive. Tech credits are pretty basic. Note how the cameraman chooses to leave the bass singer of The Clovers out of frame until late in the song.